Downspout extensions, Splashblocks and Underground Trenching
Why is water management important?
Many people do not realize the power of water until it’s too late. As they say “water always wins” and water will usually go where it wants to go unless it is directed otherwise. Many times water can cause damage to your home even after it has been safely controlled by your gutters and downspouts. In many cases we find homes with the downspouts discharging directly next to the foundation, usually due to a downspout elbow falling off or simply because the original gutter installer didn’t know better. This water “pooling” effect next to the foundation can be a real problem, especially if the grade around the home is poor. This can lead to additional hydrostatic pressure on the foundation walls.
What is hydrostatic pressure?
Underground water creates what is known as hydrostatic pressure when it encounters a barrier such as a basement or foundation wall. During heavy rains the water table rises toward your basement which creates more hydrostatic pressure and can exert up to 500 lbs. per square inch against your home’s foundation. Over a period of time, this pressure can cause basement walls to bow or crack and lead to water in the basement, mold and a variety of other problems you don’t need. This has led to the lucrative industry of basement waterproofing which can run upwards of $10,000 or more to have installed. In most cases, this expense can be avoided if you catch it in time and invest in some outside water management options, including a functional and proper capacity gutter system, Gutter Helmet and an underground drainage system.
What are my options?
The best strategy is to get the water as far away from the foundation as possible. The first step and easiest way to do this is to add downspout extensions or “kickers” to help move the water away. This can easily be done by the homeowner by purchasing flexible tubing or extra downspout pipe and elbows and simply attaching it to your existing downspout. Our standard installation when installing new gutters is to extend the downspouts at least 4 feet from the home whenever possible. The farther the better, however many homeowners do not want to have downspout pipe laying across the grass because it is unsightly and can get in the way of mowing the lawn.
There are a couple solutions to help this problem. Some of our customers have us install a “hinge” on the end of the downspout so they can easily move it out of the way when doing yard work and then put it back in place when they are done. This is done by attaching velcro to the bottom of the downspout and top section of downspout it is attached to along the wall. Additionally, many homeowners have us install a plastic or concrete splashblock at the termination of the downspout. This can give the job a more finished look and is a good way of dispersing the water and directing it away from the home. These are all good solutions, but underground drainage is still the preferred option.
How is underground drainage installed?
The installation of underground drainage is not usually cheap or easy – and sometimes not even possible – but is definitely the best long-term approach to directing rainwater away from the foundation. The piping used is usually 4″ in diameter and may be solid or corrugated. When a property has a good slope away from the home the end of the underground tile may simply be terminated and capped, however in situations without proper slope a “pop-up” drain may be needed to allow the water to exit in the middle of the lawn.
There are two main ways this drainage is installed, either by hand digging or using a commercial trenching machine. There are a number of considerations which must be made concerning undergound power lines or sprinkler systems as well as cement or brick paver walk ways which will determine how the trench will be dug. Every situation is different, but in general the goal is to safely take the water as far away as possible. This can sometimes be a challenge, especially when neighbors are involved. For these reasons, we strongly recommend to our customers that when building a new home, these drain lines should be part of the building process as they will definitely be worth the investment in the long run. It is simply much more complicated to put them in “after the fact”. If you would like a professional opinion of your home’s drainage system, we offer a no obligation appointment with an Atlas professional.